Pubdate: Fri, 02 Nov 2012
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Joe Garofoli


TACOMA, Wash. - If you believe the polls, and many people here are 
wary even when they're favorable, then Washington voters are poised 
to legalize two things Californians haven't: same-sex marriage and marijuana.

With ballot measures on both issues before Washington voters Tuesday, 
the lessons learned from California's Proposition 8, which banned 
same-sex marriage in 2008, and Proposition 19, which would have made 
marijuana legal but was shot down in 2010, have been echoing across 
Washington for months.

Some voters are noticing a different tone to the campaigns, with the 
issues being framed differently in a state where, in the case of 
marriage, there are proportionately fewer churchgoers than in 
California. In the case of the marijuana measure, there is far less 
political opposition from law enforcement.

"I feel like this campaign is coming from a different place than 
where Prop. 8 was coming from," Georgina Mendoza of Seattle, a 
23-year-old graduate student and former Santa Barbara resident, told 
a canvasser supporting same-sex marriage who showed up on her 
doorstep this week.

"Prop. 8 seemed like it was all about civil rights and fairness. 
Which is good," Mendoza said. "But there's a lot more talk about 
family here this time."

In California and other states, polls often have shown early support 
for same-sex marriage and marijuana, only to have it fade as doubts 
and negative ad attacks swelled by election day. Across the nation, 
similar measures have been rejected in all 32 states where they have 
been on the ballot. Same-sex marriage measures are also on the 
ballots in Maryland, Minnesota and Maine.

Passed by Legislature

A survey released Thursday by the nonpartisan KCTS 9 Washington Poll 
shows that 58 percent of voters support Referendum 74, which asks 
voters whether they approve or reject a law approved by the 
Washington Legislature this year and signed in February by Gov. 
Christine Gregoire, while 38 percent oppose it. The 
marijuana-legalization measure, known as Initiative 502, has the 
backing of 55 percent of likely voters, with 38 percent opposed, 
according to the survey.

Washington has consistently been a socially liberal state, said Mark 
A. Smith, an expert on religion and politics and a University of 
Washington political science professor.

Drawing on national and local research led by Oakland pollster Amy 
Simon, supporters of same-sex marriage have crafted a campaign that 
focuses on connecting with voters about how marriage is a universal 
value. Their ads recount the journeys that straight pastors and 
parents of gay children have taken in coming to support same-sex marriage.

Besides allowing same-sex couples to marry, the measure would give 
clergy and religious organizations the right to refuse to perform or 
recognize any marriage ceremony.

Broadened outreach

People familiar with the California campaign in 2008 say same-sex 
marriage proponents have tried to broaden their outreach in 
Washington. Volunteers say at least half of the people staffing phone 
banks and performing door-todoor canvasses are straight.

"When we got married a year ago, I realized how important it is to me 
to say, 'This is my husband,' " said Jessica Gavre, a 29-year-old who 
spent her first anniversary this week making calls in support of the 
measure in Tacoma with her husband, Steven Green. "But our gay and 
lesbian friends can never say that. And that matters to me."

Democratic state Rep. Laurie Jinkins, the first openly lesbian member 
of Washington's Legislature, said convincing voters has involved a 
"slow buildup" over years. Three years ago, voters affirmed a 
domestic partnership law, often known as "everything but" marriage.

"Now they want the 'but,' " said the Rev. Victor Langford, an 
opponent of Referendum 74 who has been the pastor of a mostly African 
American Lutheran congregation in Seattle for 35 years. He has 
organized rallies against the measure around the state. If voters 
uphold the marriage law, Langford fears it would create a 
"gender-neutral society" where there are no men and no women. "Just persons."

Catholic opposition

Opposition to same-sex marriage in California was led by the Catholic 
Church - including a prominent role by now-San Francisco Archbishop 
Salvatore Cordileone, who said "the ultimate attack of the Evil One 
is the attack on marriage."

But Catholic muscle has been tested in Washington. While Catholic 
leaders have taken strong positions against the measure, more than 
1,000 self-described "committed Catholics" signed a full-page ad that 
ran in Sunday's Seattle Times urging voters to support the marriage measure.

"That was huge," Langford said. "The Catholics in the Seattle area 
are severely fractured. I have not seen that before."

Now, Langford said. "I'm just praying for a miracle to win."

The campaign backing the state's same-sex law, Washington United for 
Marriage, has raised $13.5 million, giving it a 6-to-1 advantage over 
opponents, according to the state's Public Disclosure Commission. 
Donors include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos 
and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted largely in the more 
conservative part of the state east of the Cascade mountain range. In 
a pouring rainstorm this week, a dozen opponents of same-sex marriage 
met in a Walmart parking lot in Snohomish County, north of Seattle.

Before they moved on to hold campaign banners over an Interstate 5 
overpass nearby, one of the opponents offered a prayer asking God for 
the strength to defeat the measure, "which in its power would be like 
Hurricane Sandy in changing our society."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom